In the months to come, the Daily Light will be profiling odd jobs in which I will be playing employee for the day. It is an opportunity to meet local business owners and profile their store in a refreshing way. We’re lining up places of business even as this goes to print but it seemed most appropriate to start with a job that involves teaching young adults to punch and kick. Specifically, it is the kickboxing class through Navarro College at the Midlothian campus. The class is held at the Main Street Gym in Midlothian, earning students a required credit for kinesiology for their associate’s degree with Navarro.
Unlike many college courses, attendance is required in this class and the final grade is based upon physical participation. Once roll call is taken, 22 students, ranging in age between 18 to 24, gear up with boxing or kickbox gloves and find a partner with whom to share a punching bag. It is about this time that Charlie, the self-appointed entertainer of the class, offers his own music. This is allowed with the understanding that, if there are any cuss words, mandatory push-ups for the entire class will be required. With a head nod, Charlie cranks the music and we get to work on the bags, mixing up round kicks, upper cuts, hook punches, and jabs in various combinations. We work the upper body, cardio and the core while also mixing in balance, agility and fighting stances.
Sounds simple, right?
Except Charlie cannot seem to stay in his own area and finds it necessary to bound over toward Tyler and Bryce, pretending to punch them. While I am explaining the nuances of a spinning back fist to Lydia, Jamie has decided to also join in on the pretend air-kicks directed at other people. With Ryan and Austin going Jackie Chan all over their bags, completely oblivious to anything around them, Hailey begins loudly protesting Drew’s aggression on his bag as with each punch his bag inches ever closer and closer toward her. For reasons known only to her, Heather has decided to wear ballet slippers to class, and Katie so dislikes the smell of her gloves that she has completely stopped punching and simply waves her arms in the air to “de-scent” her hands.
Then, it happens. A cuss word emanates from the speakers and the command is given. “Push-ups, compliments of Charlie!” This is met with a chorus of “Way to go, Charlie!” and “Thanks a lot, Charlie.” But Charlie is undeterred as he is now performing “the worm” on the floor of the gym and coming dangerously close to Brianna and Courtney, who attempt to inch worm in push-up fashion away from the impending Charlie.
“Fine. Since Charlie likes being on the floor so much, let’s add another 40 push-ups!”
As groans echo across the gym, Tyler, Jamie and Connor are in a full-on push-up competition while Maureen, Abby, Rachel and Kelsey are in agony and not-so-silently plotting Charlie’s death. Meantime, Charlie has begun doing the “robot” in the middle of the room. Veins begin to pop out on my neck as I am yelling over Katy Perry’s new song, “Roar.” How appropriate. I am trying to be heard while Garret has taken on a new strategy to “fight” by running at and leaping upon the punching bag. His last pass nearly knocks Brittany over and we’re back on the floor, this time compliments of Garrett, and doing 100 sit ups, which is not nearly enough for Shaylee, our resident abdominal queen, who suggests 200. This is met with a multitude of hostile “shut ups!” But we don’t say “shut up” in class, so we do 200 sit ups and, while Shaylee smirks her way through a variety of abdominal crunches and Charlie is now rolling like a “tootsie roll” on the floor (on top of Jamie and Brittany), I make the colossal mistake of commenting on Miley Cyrus’ new song, “Wrecking Ball,” which I have mistaken for “Rainbow.” Sure, I know that the lyrics, “I love you like a rainbow” don’t necessarily make sense but neither does loving someone like a wrecking ball and because I have shoes older than all these kids and may be losing my hearing, it seems totally uncool to laugh at me and so, for this, we must all do another 50 push-ups … except for Charlie, who has begun doing his own variation of a “moonwalk” over people while they are attempting not so pretty push-ups.
As the hour wraps up, several things are made clear to me. I do not get paid enough money. But what is even more clear is that this is our next generation of care givers. This is our new generation of parents, professionals, voters and decision makers. And as I watch Charlie enter into some kind of sumo wrestling match with Bryce, while I see Maureen cover her eyes in mock horror as Miranda and Vanessa try to ignore it and stay on task, I realize how much I love these kids. They are fun, hard-working (except for Charlie), but silly. They have big dreams and while I have no idea what most of the lyrics are to the songs they sing together in loud unison (they may be plotting my demise), I have to believe these kids are going to make for a fabulous future.
Now residing in “the nicest city in Texas,” Alexandra Allred is the author of numerous books, including White Trash, Damaged Goods and the Allie Lindell series. Visit her website, www.alexandratheauthor, or Twitter @alexandraallred but always check out her column the WDL as she ponders all things Waxahachie and beyond its borders.